Major funding boost for £4.3m project to restore one of Scotland’s rare rainforests

A rainforest in Argyll & Bute

A £4.3 million project to save one of Scotland’s ‘internationally important’ rainforests has received a major boost thanks to a funding offer of £250,000 from NatureScot.

The country currently has 30,000 hectares of rare rainforest spread across the west coast in small and fragmented areas – representing just two percent of the nation’s overall woodland cover.

The High levels of rainfall and relatively mild temperatures of the areas provide the perfect conditions for some of the world’s rarest bryophytes and lichens. RSPB Scotland said that the trees, boulders and ravines found in the rainforests make them internationally important.

The project, dubbed Saving Morven’s Rainforest, will focus exclusively on the Morvern peninsula in the Highlands in a bid to enhance and restore it, while also creating local jobs and bringing ecotourism to the area.

RSPB Scotland explained that the rainforests are threatened by ash die-back, nitrogen pollution, invasive species and ‘severe’ overgrazing. The initiative will focus on the removal of invasive plants and also create an additional 100 hectares of woodland to the existing 850.

The charity said that eight jobs and two traineeships will be created through the project, as well as opportunities for volunteering and skills training opportunities. The development is currently being assessed for £2.6 million of support from the EU.

Anne McCall, director of RSPB Scotland, said,“We are grateful to NatureScot for their pledged contribution to this important project. The Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest has conservation at its heart, and we are proud to be a part of this impressive partnership. The creation of local jobs and traineeships, and the development of a sustainable legacy are crucial aspects of the project, involving land managers and community partners to ensure the success of the project in the long term. RSPB Scotland is optimistic about what this partnership can achieve. We are currently seeking support to bridge the last remaining funding gap; more information can be found on the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest website.”

NatureScot chief executive, Francesca Osowska, said, “We’re pleased to pledge £250,000 towards this ambitious project to restore key areas of Scotland’s rainforest on the Morvern peninsula.

“NatureScot’s role is to improve nature across Scotland; this project is an excellent example of doing just that. Scotland’s rainforest is of global importance and home to a unique range of species, so it’s vital that we support urgent action to protect and enhance this precious habitat.

“This kind of investment not only offers a nature-based solution to climate change by locking up carbon and helping to meet Scottish Government objectives for woodland creation, but can also help ensure a green recovery from the pandemic by creating sustainable local livelihoods.

“As a key member of the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, NatureScot will continue to work closely with our partners to help Scotland’s rainforest thrive once again.”